The Prospect of the Church

Isaiah 25:1-8

Introduction:

Dwight Nelson recently told a true story about the pastor of his church. He had a kitten that climbed up a tree in his back yard and then was afraid to come down. The pastor coaxed, offered warm milk, etc. The kitty would not come down.

The tree was not sturdy enough to climb, so the pastor decided that if he tied a rope to his car and drove away so that the tree bent down, he could then reach up and get the kitten.

He did! All the while, checking his progress in the car frequently, he figured if he went just a little bit further, the tree would be bent sufficiently for him to reach the kitten.

But…as he moved a little further forward , the rope broke. The tree went “boing,” and the kitten instantly sailed through the air out of sight.

The pastor felt terrible. He walked all over the neighborhood asking people if they’d seen a little kitten. No, nobody had seen a stray kitten. So he prayed, “Lord, I just commit this kitten to your keeping,” and went on about his business.

A few days later he was at the grocery store, and met one of his church members. He happened to look into her shopping cart and was amazed to see cat food.

Now this woman was a cat hater and everyone knew it, so he asked her, “Why are you buying cat food when you hate cats so much?”

She replied, “You won’t believe this,” and told him how her little girl had been begging for a cat, but she kept refusing. Then a few days before, the child had begged again, so the Mom finally told her little girl, “Well if God gives you a cat, I’ll let you keep it.”

She told the pastor, “I watched my child go out in the yard, get on her knees, and ask God for a cat. And really, Pastor, you won’t believe this, but I saw it with my own eyes.  A kitten suddenly came flying out of the blue sky, with its paws outspread and landed right in front of her.”

The moral of the story is: Never underestimate the Power of God.

We all know the old joke about the only certainty in life is death and taxes.  As we consider the prospect for the church, we will see something else is certain:  our prospects are good!

Read Isaiah 25:1-8.

The prospect of praise, (Isaiah 25:1).

A.  People were made to praise God:
1.  We were made to fellowship with Him and love Him.
2.  We were made to worship Him and exalt Him.
3.  He should be the true object of all of our bragging.
Illustration:  Those who don’t enjoy worship might find themselves miserable in heaven.
B.  At times our circumstances don’t favor worship:
1.  All through the Bible God’s people have had hard times.
2.  One thing is common to all people is trouble.
3.  Sometimes it is our fault, sometimes it is not!
Illustration:  Abraham and Sarah not able to have a child.
Illustration:  Job having lost all of his family and all of his property and his health.
Illustration:  David mourning the death of his baby son.
Illustration:  Isaiah proclaiming judgment on Israel.
Illustration:  Paul & Silas in prison in Philippi.
C.  Our circumstances should not hinder our worship:
1.  It did not prevent any of these above from worshiping God.
2.  Each of these and others were proud of God despite their circumstances.
3.  Even here, even though Isaiah was troubled by Israel’s sin, he found he was able to worship God.
4.  Why?  Why can we worship God despite trouble.
5.  How?  How can we worship God despite loss and grief?
6.  Isaiah tells us as we continue to investigate our prospects.

The prospect of power, (Isaiah 25:2-5).

A. The first reason we can worship God is His power:
1.   We know He is all powerful.
2.   We also know that He is present everywhere.
3.   We also know that He is good and loving and benevolent.
4.   These factors mean that His power is active in our lives.
B.  His power is greater than any stronghold:
1.  Fortified cities were virtually impervious to attack in ancient Israel.
2.  Israel had no artillery, siege engines, or airplanes.
3.  This was no problem for God, however.
Illustration:  The fall of Jericho.
Illustration:  The conversion of the pagan Roman Empire.
4.  This city would be so destroyed it would never be rebuilt!
5.  In the same way there is no stronghold in our lives that God can’t defeat.
C. His power is not only for battle, but also for building:

Illustration:  Tanks are great for battle, but not for reconstruction.

1.   God can do more than defeat our enemies.
2.   God can bring to us peace and refuge.
Illustration:  Israel had not lost a war, but has never been at peace.
3.  God completes His tasks in a way that brings everlasting peace.
Read John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

The prospect of prosperity, (Isaiah 25:6-7).

A. As hard as we try we can’t take it with us:
1.  We live in the richest country on earth.
2.  We are getting richer by the day!
Illustration:  He who dies with the most toys wins!
3.  Regardless of how many toys we have, they will not last!
Illustration:  That’s why we have yard sales and flea markets!
B. God will give us good things that last!
1.  We will live on the mountain top, not in the “Valley of the Shadow of Death”.
2.  We will feast at His table burdened with food.
3.  We will drink of His cup, not of punishment like Jesus, but of blessing!
Illustration:  Doesn’t this sound like the Lord’s Supper?
Illustration:  Living in “high cotton.”
C. God will also take away what possessions can’t:
1.  Possessions can’t comfort us in our loss.
2.  They can’t remove the grief or depression that settles on us like a blanket after we lose a loved one.
3.  Possessions can’t remove the sting of defeat and the regret over our sin and mistakes either.
4.  God can remove that pall, however.
5.  When He does He will dry our eyes and give us the forgiveness we need.

The prospect of peace, (Isaiah 25:8).

A.  Power and prosperity are good; what we really want is peace:
1.  We want to be in a right relationship with God.
2.  We want to be in a right relationship with people.
3.  We want to be in a right relationship with creation.
4.  We want to be in a right relationship with ourselves.
Illustration:
B.  We are just not able to achieve this:
1.  We can’t please God on our own in any case!
2.  If we appease others, we hurt ourselves.
3.  If we appease ourselves we irritate our neighbors.
Illustration:  Song lyrics that say: “You can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.”
Illustration:  One commentator said, “Don’t do unto me what you’d have me do unto you, because we might have different tastes.”
C.  Nothing is impossible with God:
1.  He has given us the power to be at peace.
2.  He has given us the prosperity to be at peace.
3.  Because we are at peace, we can praise God and worship Him!
The church’s prospects are good, very good!
Otis Corbitt
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